The Texas Court of Appeals today reversed a jury verdict against Vioxx manufacturer Merck. Just over two years ago, a Texas jury awarded 71-year old widow Leonel Garza $7 million for compensatory damages and $25 million for punitive damages, totaling $32 million. According to the opinion issued by the Court of Appeals,
The judges wrote that Garza’s family did not prove his brief use of Vioxx caused two blood clots that the family’s attorneys argued triggered his heart attack. The judges also concluded the family did not provide sufficient evidence to rule out his long-standing heart disease as the cause of his fatal heart attack.
Prior to this appeal, Mr. Garza’s award was reduced to $7.75 million due to Texas’ laws regarding the size of verdicts. It is not clear what Mr. Garza will do now that his verdict has been taken away from him. Options include appealing to the Texas Supreme Court or asking for a rehearing by the Court of Appeals.
This verdict will have no impact on any claims against Merck for a person injured in Michigan. This is because Michigan is the only state in the country that has given complete immunity to drug manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry.